SaskTel Wears Army Boots

FTLComm - Tisdale - September 15, 2000


This is a story about frustration, imagine yourself, someone who has little or no understanding of computer technology but you hear about the Internet and all the things that people are doing with it and you want to share in that experience. So you go and buy a new computer from a computer store and get the SaskTel Sympatico package, you follow directions and nothing works. You think you just have to learn more about it and for six months you struggle away trying to make it work all the time paying your monthly fees to SaskTel for the Internet and regularly calling up SaskTelís telephone help line service.



true story

This is a true story, this is exactly what happened. The lady was becoming more and more frustrated she had put out money for a new computer, was putting out money every month for a service she could not use and on top of that she was putting a lot of personal effort into learning about her computer.



fault lie in
her computer

The SaskTel help support line kept having her do this that and the other thing and finally told her that it certainly wasnít their problem and that they fault lie in her computer. That obviously it didnít work and that was what was wrong.



demanded her money back

With that advise the lady packed up her computer and brought it back to the store and demanded her money back. She was pretty annoyed with the store owner for having sold her a non working computer and having spent six months trying to use it and she still couldnít get on the Internet.



it came to life

The store owner was definitely taken back and said that he had wished she had come to him earlier so he could have helped her out but besides that letís see if it will work. They took the machine plugged it in and it came to life and worked. Then he packed it up and asked her to assemble it as she had done at home and indeed once again it worked.



ďinternet messengerĒ by Microsoft

The lady was now even more frustrated, what could have caused her all the miser and lack of success. The store owner began checking over what was happening and the problem was a simple one. She had installed the software from the Sympatico package, including an interesting little application called ďinternet messengerĒ by Microsoft. This application loads first in the start up sequence and had identified an incoming message. It is one of those things meant for someone on the Internet all the time and assumes that you have a continuous connection, since it could not get the message it was looking for it refused to permit the computer to move onward and to work. Essentially the Microsoft messenger shut down her machine.



return her computer
to the seller

Now everyone who works with computers in stores and in service knows about this interrupting nature of Internet Messenger and avoid installing it because it causes trouble. Yet SaskTelís help line determined that it was the computer and recommended to the lady to return her computer to the seller. They did not throughout the six months the lady struggled with the machine suggest that she call the story up but just kept suggesting she install this that and the other thing while her machine continued to be inoperable.



extreme displeasure

The store owners was especially upset. As a Sympatico dealer he had trusted the telephone company to support him as there is a certain level of mutual support in ventures like this and one does not expect their partner to blame them for failure. The store owner called up SaskTel and expressed his extreme displeasure at their failure to spot the simple problem for the customer and to fail to refer her back to him.



gag order

The response from SaskTel was a very pointed piece of correspondence that warned the store owner that under the agreement he had to sell Sympatico he was not allowed to voice his displeasure to the company nor to the public at any action or failure to act by the company. The failure to adhere to this gag order would result in his right to sell Sympaticoís package would be revoked.



below the standard of acceptability

The moral of this story is clearly if you can find another Internet Service provider other than SaskTel you would be wise to do so. Their treatment of customers and dealers alike is simply below the standard of acceptability. Their customer support is poor to wrong in most cases and they provide no acceptable support for Macintosh customers at all. But Mac or PC doesnít matter, the operating system in your computer and the installed software it comes with is more than you need and should you buy Sympaticoís package open it only to get your account number and do not under any circumstance install its software, if you want your computer to work.



support must come from
the seller

The second moral to this story if you buy a computer, your first and final support must come from the seller. You will pay more sometimes to buy locally but you will get support and assistance that will make you a successful user and things will work. Your time is worth more than twice the cost of the computer and if you have a non working situation all of the money you have spent on your computer is wasted.



Microsoft Messenger... avoid the hassle

There is a third moral to this story and that regards Microsoft and many of its applications. Microsoft Messenger is very tricking software. It will take over your computer and assumes like most Microsoft software that it is the only reason you have a computer and is mostly incompatible with everything else. Unless you are willing to take these changes avoid the hassle. Outlook Express and Microsoft Explorer have slightly better manners but still put all sorts of routines into your computerís operating system that will and can reduce performance and productivity. You will discover should you attempt to use the messenger service that it requires you to get a Hotmail account. Hotmail is a very suspicious mail system and under no circumstances can you expect your correspondence to be secure through that system. It takes about five minutes to set up the Messenger service both to download it and carry out the routines to make it work but the registration process with MSN for Hotmail can take more than half an hours (this was my experience) and they require you to give them far more information than should be necessary to just use a little tool that will let you communicate across the Internet person to person via type or voice.